Sandra Chaloux

| 05/10/2016

7 Things to Consider When Choosing an Acupuncturist With Tuan Nguyen

7 Things to Consider When Choosing an Acupuncturist With Tuan Nguyen

Choosing an acupuncture practitioner can be difficult, particularly if you’re new to acupuncture. You know that you want the best person for the job, but you may not know what to look for in an acupuncturist or what questions to ask. Acupuncturists can vary in experience, training and specialty just like other alternative medicine practitioners. Use the tips in this article as your guide to find the right acupuncturist for you.

How to Choose Your Acupuncturist

When you’re looking for an acupuncture practitioner, consider the following seven things:

1. Convenience

Acupuncture usually requires multiple treatments to get the best results. Make sure that the acupuncturist you choose is conveniently located for multiple visits.

2. Specialty

Before your first appointment, ask the acupuncturist if he or she has experience working on your specific problem. Like medical doctors, acupuncturists can specialize in certain areas or issues, so it’s best to use a practitioner who specializes or has experience in the issues you need addressed.

3. Experience

Ask how long the practitioner has been in business and when they graduated. A minimum of three years in an acupuncture school program is required before they can take a national certification test, but five or more years of experience is preferred. It’s important to note that practitioners who were in the medical field before they started practicing acupuncture may claim that time as acupuncture experience. In some states, medical doctors can legally work as acupuncturists with no further training. Specifically ask how long the practitioner has been practicing acupuncture, and don’t accept other medical experience as a substitute.

4. Examination procedures

Before you select a practitioner, ask what he or she will include in their examination. The basic four examinations in traditional oriental medicine are question/history taking, inspection, listening and smelling, palpation. For example, practitioners of traditional oriental medicine will examine the tongue, looking at the movement of the tongue, the shape, color, sublingual veins, and the coating, as the tongue reflects conditions inside the body. Many will also take your pulse on both wrists, looking for the speed, frequency, size, strength and consistency of the pulse. They will listen to the patient’s voice, the strength of the voice, the sound of a cough, and the sound when a patient walks. They will observe the patient’s unique odor to know which system or organ is excessive. (Note: This must be a very subtle part of the exam because I have never noticed it during any of my exams here.) They will also examine the palpating pulse along the meridians, where patient has pain or issues.

Some offer a test called Electro Meridian Imaging (EMI). The EMI is a noninvasive acupuncture meridian measurement. The test can be used as a diagnostic tool to analyze the imbalance of the meridians and/or internal organs. This test gives objective, detailed, and accurate data that the practitioner can use for treatment. Your acupuncturist may do this test on your first visit and the re-evaluation visit at the end of a course of treatment. All of these examination procedures will give the practitioner the information he or she needs to personalize your treatment.

5. Approach to stimulation

Ask the practitioner about the level of stimulation they apply. Some acupuncturists believe that they have to strongly stimulate the acupuncture point for the treatment to work. Others practitioners believe that you aren’t supposed to feel anything at all. In this case, needles gently touch the skin rather than penetrating the skin. Strong or mild stimulation of the acupuncture point depends on the disease, patient’s health constitutional, skin sensitivity, and his/her age.

6 Insurance coverage

Because the majority of practitioners do not accept medical insurance, it is best to call your insurance company to find out if they will cover the cost of acupuncture treatment for your condition.

7. Cost

Ask the practitioner what the cost of the treatment will be. They should be able to give you an estimate of the number of treatments you will need and how much each treatment will cost.

These seven considerations will give you a fair idea of whether or not an acupuncture practitioner has the experience and knowledge you need, and if the logistics of treatment will work for you. If you have other questions, make sure to ask your acupuncture practitioner before your first appointment. Just as with any purchase, it’s up to you, to do your due diligence, so you feel comfortable with your acupuncture practitioner.

I hope you begin your search for an acupuncturist in our wellness directory at Service providers in our directory are consumer-recommended.

Tuan Nguyen is a third generation acupuncturist and herbalist and the owner of Acupuncture & Herb Clinic, LLC in Sterling, VA. He has been practicing acupuncture and traditional oriental medicine in the United States since 1997.


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